Tick Expert Dr. Thomas Mather Explains What To Do If You Get A Tick Bite - Exclusive

As soon as it starts to get warm, ticks of all kinds start to swarm the woods, tall grass, and gardens. Many of those ticks, especially the blacklegged variety — which are commonly known as deer ticks — can carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Tick bites can also cause other issues like Alpha-gal syndrome, which can make you allergic to red meat. It's incredibly important to be aware of where ticks commonly dwell and take measures to prevent tick bites from happening. 

If you do get bitten, tick expert Dr. Thomas Mather says that there are some important things you need to do as soon as you discover the tick on your skin. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, he laid out all the steps you should take to safely remove a tick and what you should do afterward. 

Finding tick bites

Because ticks are so small and their bites usually don't cause pain, you likely won't know that a tick has bitten you until you see it on your skin. That's why it's crucial to perform a thorough tick check after every hike in the woods, tromp through tall grass, and gardening session. When you get home, change your clothes and examine your whole body.

Dr. Thomas Mather recommends starting with "the lower part of your body first and then moving up, because that's how ticks move, from the ground up." He added that it's critical to check the places where "clothing meets, or binds closely to, your skin" because that's where ticks will be able to access your skin. Places where ticks often hide include: "between toes, behind knees, in the groin area, around the waistline, in the belly button, inside elbow joints and armpits, in and around the ear, around the hairline, and on the scalp."

Dr. Mather emphasized that it's important to check your pets for ticks as well. Often, your pets will bring ticks into your home, and you'll end up with a bite from the same tick that bit your pet. Check your pet's paws and between their toes, between their back and front legs, on their neck under their collar, in and around their ears, their whole head, and the base of their tail.

What to do if you find a tick

Though it's essential to remove a tick as soon as you can, it's more important to remove it safely. To do that, Dr. Thomas Mather said you'll need a pair of tweezers, preferably ones that have a point at the tip.

"By having something with a very pointy tip, you are able to get as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick out without squeezing the back part of the tick where the germs are," Dr. Mather explained. "Get as close to the skin as possible with the pointy tweezers, hold the tick firmly, and pull straight up in a slow, steady motion."

Instead of flushing or throwing away the tick, Dr. Mather recommends putting it in a Ziplock bag. Saving the tick allows you to identify it and determine if you're at risk for any tick-borne illnesses, even if you're not a tick expert. Just take a picture of the top of the tick and send it to TickSpotters. If TickSpotters says your tick usually doesn't carry any illness-causing germs, then you're good to dispose of the tick. If they say that your tick may carry disease, you can send the tick to a lab for testing. That way you'll know for sure whether you need to head to the doctor.

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